Nebraska continued to gorge itself on the Big Ten pitching buffet.
The Huskers chowed down on 15 hits en route to an 11-2 victory against Ohio State on a crisp Friday afternoon before 1,518 fans at Haymarket Park.
NU was batting a league-leading .359 through nine Big Ten games. Add in Friday’s feast and the Huskers are hitting .367 in conference play.
The plethora of hits, combined with the pitching of Christian DeLeon, helped Nebraska earn a share of first place in the Big Ten with Indiana at 8-2.
Nebraska and the Buckeyes play again Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
“That was the most complete game, by far, we’ve played,” said Husker coach Darin Erstad, whose team improved to 14-17 overall and 8-0 at home. “You put constant pressure on the other team, and we had opportunities to score more, but you’re going to get there.”
After loading the bases in the first, third and fourth innings, the Huskers hit into inning-ending double plays and clung to a 3-2 lead.
But five hits, including a two-run double by Kash Kalkowski, led to a six-run fifth, and the rest was up to DeLeon.
DeLeon (4-2) was touched up with a pair of home runs – the first he’s allowed all year – and a couple of screaming line drives, including one ripped back to the mound that he casually caught.
But the junior right-hander settled in, didn’t allow a walk in eight innings and limited the Buckeyes to just eight hits, while striking out five.
“Me and (NU pitching coach Ted) Silva were on a real good page,” DeLeon said. “He was calling a lot of changeups and I’m getting more confident with that pitch. When he calls that I get happy on the mound.
“This year, it’s (his changeup) really developed.”
Even when Ohio State’s Brad Hallberg homered to left and Ryan Cypret homered to straight-away center, DeLeon stayed calm.
“Fastballs down the middle and they took advantage of it, so props to them,” DeLeon said. “I try to attack the strike zone and giving up no walks in eight innings is OK. Today, I could locate the fastball and got the changeup going. You get those two pitches going, it’s going to be a good day.”
Kalkowski had a pair of two-run doubles, while leadoff hitter Rich Sanguinetti collected three hits, including a double, and Blake Headley had three singles off Jason Long, who threw a complete game to beat NU last year.
Headley, who took over at third when senior Josh Scheffert injured his elbow last month, raised his average almost 30 points to .287. He also scored a run and drove in a run.
“Headley has big shoes to fill and he just has to try not to do too much and play good defense,” Erstad said. He said Headley’s consistency is partly a result of playing regularly.
Headley, one of five Millard South graduates on the NU roster, agreed.
“I’m coming up to the plate right after Kash had two big doubles and that got me going,” he said. “I have a job to do and getting up to the plate on a consistent basis helps a lot.”
NEBRASKA 11, OHIO STATE 2
|Ciamacco cf||4||0||0||0||Sanguinetti cf||5||2||3||0|
|Cypret 2b||4||1||1||1||Kelly 2b||2||1||0||1|
|Pellant ss||4||0||1||0||Pritchard dh||4||1||2||0|
|Porter rf||4||0||2||0||Christensen lf||2||2||2||2|
|Bosiokovic 3b||3||0||2||0||Kildow ph/lf||1||0||0||0|
|Gretz c||4||0||0||0||Darby rf||2||1||0||1|
|Kuhn dh||4||0||0||0||Kalkowski 1b||4||1||2||4|
|Wetzel lf||4||0||1||0||Scheffert ph||1||0||0||0|
|Hallberg 1b||3||1||1||1||Edrington ss||0||0||0||0|
E--Cypret; Bosiokovic; Gretz. DP-- Ohio State 3. LOB--Ohio State 6; Nebraska 7. 2B--Wetzel; Nebraska, Sanguinetti; Kalkowski. 3B--Porter. HR--Cypret; Hallberg. SH--Pritchard; Darby. SF--Kelly; Christensen; Darby. CS--Bosiokovic; Kalkowski.
|Long L, 4-3||4.1||13||9||7||2||1|
|DeLeon W, 4-2||8.0||8||2||2||0||5|
HBP--by Long (Christensen); by McKinney (Darby). WP--Long; McKinney; DeLeon. T--2:24. A--1,518.